A year ago looked different for most of us. The concerns and guidelines of COVID-19 were in the early stages but some of the most stringent. There were uncertainties, inconveniences—and opportunities. In the past year, we’ve eased some uncertainties, minimized some inconveniences—and disregarded some opportunities. Let’s not want a return to normal so much that we forget some of the challenges that grew us.
As I pulled into my driveway recently, I noticed a few daffodils blooming at the corner of my house. A closer look revealed what I expected: the early growth of tulips, too. It will be a few weeks before they’re in full bloom. I inherited them when I moved to my home, and I don’t see them often, because they’re on a side of the house I rarely walk along. So, last year, instead of losing them, I enjoyed them in the best way I knew: I shared them. I cut bundles, wrapped them in damp paper towels, and delivered them. Among the recipients were women I knew lived on their own and were not able to get out much because of COVID concerns. I thought the least I could do is share a little color. I placed small bouquets on door steps, informing the recipients of the gift after I’d left the area either. I did the same with other deliveries in the month or two that followed. I made and shared masks and bought a couple flats of strawberries to divide and distribute.
As I saw the daffodils recently, I thought of those quiet deliveries, and I realized one person was gone. She had been so appreciative of the masks, and strawberries were a favorite. This year, I can’t make surprise drop offs to her. Of course, the need has dissipated—but so has the opportunity.
Many of us look back on the past year and think of what we’re ready to leave behind. We’re ready to get back to as much normal as we can. We are tired of inconveniences, and some even think much of it was unnecessary. As we “return to normal,” it’s a bit different. We’re in some sort of modification of what we deem as normal. Some are hesitant, and others are annoyed. Some want to resume more quickly; others want the transition to slow down. Whatever the pace with which we move forward, I hope we reflect on the opportunities and experiences of the past year.
Curious, I looked back on some comments made in those first couple months of restrictions and shut downs, when people—in the midst of confusion and uncertainties—noted some realizations and appreciation. It is from those comments that I created this hope list for what we keep in the forefront as we continue to move forward.
- I hope we continue to think of people who might be lonely or isolated, affected by life in ways that we are not. I hope we expand our circles to consider others and find ways to encourage and affirm them.
- I hope we intentionally spend time with our closest people even when we’re not forced to be together. I hope we don’t let the rush of activity and responsibilities crowd out game nights, long walks, and spontaneous silliness.
- I hope we invite space to try new things and to be creative.
- I hope we find ways to use what we have instead of rushing to fill the gaps of what we think we need.
- I hope we are patient with people who see things differently than we do. I hope we shut few people out and make less assumptions by asking genuine questions and respectfully listening.
I hope we have learned and continue to learn. I hope we have grown and continue to grow. I hope we hope.